Prep baseball: Carson 13, South Rowan 8
By David Shaw
LANDIS ó Carson’s baseball team doesn’t need a calendar to know what time of year it is.
It’s crunch time for the fifth-place Cougars, who responded with a 16-hit attack and outslugged host South Rowan 13-8 on Tuesday.
“It’s a big week for us,” winning coach Chris Cauble said after Carson (14-7, 10-5 NPC) earned its second straight conference win. “This was a must-win for us to stay close to the top. We’ve got to go up and take care of Lake Norman (tonight) and then beat West Iredell on Friday.”
If they swing with the force they showed against South (7-15, 2-14), the Cougars have a good shot at securing one of the league’s six playoff berths.
“I’ll take those odds,” said outfielder Scott Ashby, who homered for the second straight game and had four RBIs. “We’ve got three important games coming up and we’ll need this momentum.”
Much of it came from an eight-run inning that gave Carson an 8-1 lead in the top of the third. South starter J.D. Bare was effective for two innings but unravelled after retiring the first CHS batter in the third. Nine straight Cougars reached base before SR coach Thad Chrismon made a pitching change.
“J.D. just started leaving the ball up a little bit,” Chrismon said. “In the first couple innings he was getting ahead of batters. But in that big inning he lost control, and when he did get it down, he was leaving it right over the plate.”
The way Carson was swinging, there could have been a fight at the bat rack.
“In the first two innings we weren’t taking the swings we were supposed to,” infielder Julio Zubillaga said. “Coach said to start putting it in play and good things will happen. We did and then had the big inning.”
Zubillaga went 3-for-4, scored three times and drove in four runs. He gave Carson a 2-1 lead early in the third when he belted his first varsity home run ó a two-run shot that sailed over the fence in left-center field.
“It was right down the middle,” said Zubillaga, who connected on a 1-0 pitch from Bare. “It was hit so solid I didn’t even feel it come off the bat.”
Some 20 minutes later Zubillaga was back in the batters box facing Alex Ingold, the second of three South pitchers.
Zubillaga’s run-scoring double to right-center capped an amazing inning.
“There were two strikes on me, so my job was to put the ball in play,” Zubillaga said. “The pitch was outside, so I took it the other way.”
Ashby delivered a run-scoring groundout in the fourth inning and an RBI single in the fifth as Carson’s lead ballooned to 10-1.
South, now languishing through an eight-game losing streak, fought back in the last of the fifth against Carson lefty Justin Morrison, who spelled starting pitcher Zach Glass.
The Raiders scored six times ó all of them after Ingold had lined into double play. Key hits were delivered by Jordan West, Cory Deason, Bare and Blake Houston.
“A lot of kids would have thrown in the towel down 10-1,” said Chrismon. “But we kept battling. The problem was we had dug ourselves too deep a hole.”
Carson shoveled on the dirt with two runs in the sixth and Ashby’s third round-tripper of the year in the seventh.
“We knew it wasn’t over with at 10-1,” Ashby said. “But it’s hard to beat a team that scores in every inning.”
NOTES: South Rowan honored five seniors ó Bare, West, Tyler Lefler, Jordan Corriher and James Hall ó on Senior Night. The Raiders close the regular season with games at North Iredell on Friday and East Rowan next Monday. … Carson plays at Lake Norman tonight and visits West Iredell on Friday.